Health Tip: How to know if you have sleep apnea and how to manage it

Managing sleep apnea

SARASOTA, Fla. (WWSB) - It’s estimated that 22 million Americans suffer from sleep apnea and most of those cases go undiagnosed.

Sleep apnea is when someone stops breathing in the middle of the night because their airway closes when they fall asleep.

People of all ages can get this sleep disorder. Genetics and weight gain are two causes.

Some signs of sleep apnea are snoring, night sweats, headaches, or having to go to the bathroom multiple times throughout the night. If you do have this sleep disorder and don’t get diagnosed, it could cause some issues down the road.

"Untreated apnea increases the risk for things like stroke, heart attack, high blood pressure, heart failure, greater risk of diabetes, poor controlled diabetes, earlier aged dementia, if you were going to have dementia, you could get it at an earlier age, and sudden death does occur, it's not very common, but it does occur," said Dr. Glenn Adams, who is the Director of the Sleep Disorder Center at the Sarasota Memorial Hospital.

Dr. Adams said there are different options out there for people suffering from this. The most common treatment is using a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) device. The CPAP device is connected to a mask that people wear at night to help their airflow. The mask also helps people stop snoring. Doctors also give patients a mouth piece to wear at night or special nose plugs.

Other things people can try at home that could help with sleep apnea include avoiding alcohol, losing weight, or changing the position that they sleep in at night.

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